NH Timber Harvest Will Create Patches of Young Forest

CONCORD – The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests has begun a timber harvest on 65 acres of land that the nonprofit organization owns on the western side of the lower slopes of Mt. Monadnock near Shaker Farm Road in Jaffrey. The harvest is the first of several to be completed in stages over the next several years, affecting a total of about 250 acres.

White-throated sparrow

White-throated sparrows nest in thick young forest that springs up following timber harvests in hardwood forests such as the one begun on Mt. Monadnock in southern New Hampshire./T. Berriman

The Forest Society owns 4,500 acres on Mt. Monadnock in southern New Hampshire, and leases much of that land to the state to manage as Monadnock State Park. Periodic timber harvests are part of a long-term management plan that calls for cutting timber to encourage young forest regeneration and create diverse wildlife habitats while generating revenue for the organization to use to conserve forests, farms and wetlands in New Hampshire.

No harvesting will be done on the higher elevation areas of the mountain, where 2,800 acres containing unusual natural communities are set aside as an “ecological reserve.”

“The lower flanks of Mt. Monadnock contain common forest types in New Hampshire, and these are the areas the Forest Society manages for timber,” said Forest Society forester Gabe Roxby. “A major goal of our management of these areas is to create patches of young forest to complement the aging forests of the ecological reserve.”

Of the 55,000 acres owned and managed by the Forest Society statewide, approximately one-third is land inaccessible for logging or designated as ecological reserve, while the rest is managed for timber, recreation and wildlife habitat.

“Demonstrating sustainable [timber] harvesting is part of our mission,” said Jane Difley, president/forester at the Forest Society. “Conducting a harvest like this one does mean that people will notice changes in the forest.”

The Forest Society notes that nearby Marlboro Trail and parking area will remain open to hikers during the harvest. Hikers on the Marlboro Trail should exercise caution where machinery will cross the trail. A previously used log landing off Shaker Farm Road in Jaffrey will be used to store logs until they are trucked to mills.

Forwarder

One goal of the timber harvest is to create patches of young forest that will complement areas of older forest on Mt. Monadnock./NH Forest Society

“At the end of the harvest, hikers accessing the Marlboro Trail parking area will find the class-six road leading there to be left in an improved state,” said Roxby.

The Forest Society will offer a public tour of the harvest site in early January, with a date to be determined according to weather and site conditions. The tour date will be posted when available at the Forest Society’s website, www.forestsociety.org/events.

The following information is drawn from Gabe Roxby’s blog.

“The goals of this timber harvest are based on an extensive inventory of the land’s natural resources, which began in the fall of 2014. About 50 acres of the harvest area contains soils that are deep and rich, and that currently support a hardwood forest of red oak, sugar maple, red maple and white ash. Trees will be cut in these areas in small groups aimed at creating conditions necessary for sugar maple and yellow birch to naturally regenerate.

“Upslope of this area, 15 acres of dry, shallow soils present excellent growing conditions for red oak. Harvesting in this area will be tailored to the regeneration requirements of red oak, which typically needs larger canopy openings (1-2 acres) to be successful. In both areas, the priority will be on removing trees that are either of poor quality or are ecologically and financially mature.

“This entry is the first of several that will be conducted on this part of Mount Monadnock over the next couple of years. In total, about 250 acres of forest will be treated using a variety of silvicultural techniques varying from a light forest thinning to larger patch cut openings. Each technique has a specific objective based on the size, density and composition of the forest noted during the 2014 inventory.”

(Founded in 1901 and supported by 10,000 families and businesses, the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests is the state’s oldest and largest nonprofit land conservation organization. The Forest Society’s mission is to perpetuate the state’s forests by promoting land conservation and sustainable forestry. The organization owns 54,500 conserved acres of land in New Hampshire and holds conservation easements on another 130,000 acres.)